Glastonbury: hippie to yuppie event

Glastonbury, Britain’s largest annual three-day music festival, came to an end on Sunday with its organiser, Michael Eavis, describing this year’s event the best ever in its 33-year-old history.

With more than 115,000 ticket-holders gathered at the 1,000 acre southwest England site,  Eavis told journalists that the musicians and the weather had made a truly memorable event, mentioning REM, Radiohead and Moby as well as the brilliant sunshine.

Two or three headline acts were already on board for next year’s event, he said, for an event that now costs $175 a ticket, but cost the equivalent of just $1 when it started in 1970.

Not everyone smiling

But he admitted that there had been complaints from many Glastonbury regulars who had missed out this year because tickets sold out within 18 hours of going on sale, and said organisers were taking the problem on board.

With the festival’s success has come a fresh problem – massive demand for tickets to what’s become a prime event on Britain’s cultural calendar.

Accusations that the once anarchic festival – a child of the 70s flower power era – was now overpopulated with thirty-something men snapping up tickets instantly on the Internet using credit cards, trying to regain their lost youth.

“Perhaps we can get a database of people who missed out and make sure they can come next time. I would hope that everyone who wants to come could get a ticket once every two years,” said the organizer, adding, “we could allocate a bigger 20,000 or 30,000 for National Union of Students members”.

Colourful history

Just three years ago the festival looked on the verge of closing for good, after an estimated 250,000 people broke through the perimeter fence – causing chaos on the festival site as well as havoc for Eavis’s neighbours.

Since then, some of the festival’s hippy ethos has made way for hard-nosed advice from corporate concert promoters and a 3.5 meter ‘superfence’ to keep out ticketless “gate-crashers”.

Unlike previous years, organisers received no overnight complaints from locals about noise from the site.

Extra security and police patrols also reported a reduction crime there to 32 incidents, mostly of theft.

Maintaining green credentials

The new image of Glastonbury as a safe and secure venue for the major festival came alongside the retention of its unique alternative elements.

Eavis said that the Lost Vagueness field had a 50% budget increase to attract more alternative performers and artists, and in the Greenfields Area  environmental and charitable pressure groups including Greenpeace, War on Want and Oxfam maintained a strong presence.

Part of the proceeds from the festival are given to Greenpeace, Oxfam and Water Aid to support their work for the environment and against hunger and poverty.